Joseph and Luke 2:33 – Are Modern Translations Corrupt?

Let me start this and state from the outset, that I do not have any issue with the King James Version (KJV) of the Bible. This is not an anti-KJV post but rather one to balance some of the arguments the KJV-only proponents have used to ridicule and malign some of the modern translations such as the NASB, NIV, ESV etc.

Just so it is clear, my position is this: that the version of Bible you use (be it KJV, NASB, NIV etc) is a personal preference and it will not affect your ability to live a godly life, your walk with the Lord, or your ability to win souls to Christ. Most of the modern translations are extremely accurate to the original texts in their original languages of Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic.

The argument that the KJV is the only perfect version of God’s Word is incorrect and most of the arguments used to support that position are wrong, or disingenuous. As I complete other posts about the KJV-only issue, they can be found here.

The passage below is one of those used to argue the superiority of the KJV.

Luke 2:33 in a couple of different translations says the following:

KJV: And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him.

ESV: And his father and his mother marveled at what was said about him.

NASB: And His father and mother were amazed at the things which were being said about Him.

NIV (1984): The child’s father and mother marveled at what was said about him.

This passage is one which is often used to support the erroneous view that the modern translations (often labelled “perversions” by KJV-only supporters) are trying to deny the virgin birth, of all things. Their argument basically states that the modern translations state that Jesus’ father was Joseph and not God and thus He was born of a natural union between Joseph and Mary. Only the KJV refers to Joseph by name and thus preserves the truth of the virgin birth.

A quote from the site “Scion of Zion” for example states this: “The effect of changing “Joseph” to “father” will teach that Jesus had an earthly father which completely voids the cardinal doctrine of the virgin birth of Christ. If Joseph was the earthly father of the Lord Jesus, then He would have had to inherit the sin nature which was passed down from Adam. . . . By removing verses which support the virgin birth, it brings Jesus down to the level of just a human being. If Jesus was born with a sin nature, then He was an unqualified candidate for atonement for the sins of His people and therefore we Christians are still in our sins.”

So, are the modern versions trying to mislead the people and deceitfully move people away from the virgin birth and thus into a position of deny the ability of Christ to save? Not at all. The concept is absolutely preposterous. This is an argument which typifies the idiocy in the KJV-only movement. It tends to be based on hysteria and deception.

There are many facts of evidence which clearly state that the modern translations are not trying to deny the virgin birth.

Firstly, if that was the case, they would need to systematically remove all reference to the virgin birth. However, in the previous chapter, the NASB, for example, mentions the virgin birth 3 times (Luke 1:27, 34). Also, in verse 35, the miraculous aspect of His birth is mentioned a couple more times. So the conspiracy essentially dies with that.

Secondly, to all intents and purposes, Joseph was Jesus’ father. He raised Him, cared for Him, loved Him, provided for Him, and taught Him a trade even. Now, my wife is adopted. She was raised by a couple who were not her birth parents. Yet she calls them her mother and father. She does not specifically her “adoptive mother” and “adoptive father”. That is clumsy and impractical. The same goes for this situation too – Joseph was Jesus’ father – an adoptive father.

Thirdly, the KJV actually has no problem calling Joseph His father elsewhere. Luke 2:41 in the KJV says: “Now His parents went to Jerusalem…” And again in Luke 2:48 the KJV says: “Behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.” Here the KJV itself has referred to Joseph as His father and His parent.

The modern translations in no way hint or suggest or otherwise to be trying to deny our Lord’s virgin birth. They simply have used a word clearly understood by the read to convey the relationship Joseph had with Jesus. To suggest otherwise almost insults the intelligence of readers. So, it is actually not the KJV that is the problem here, it is rather the people who use it as a tool of their manipulation in their war on God’s Word.

In this instance, the KJV and the modern translations both provide a perfectly valid translation for their readers. No one is left bereft of vital, fundamental information.

May God bless you all.

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5 responses to “Joseph and Luke 2:33 – Are Modern Translations Corrupt?

  1. In my mind, the real question is which was in the original texts: father or Joseph. If a KJV/NASB/NIV translator made the decision to change from one to the other, they would have been furthering their own agenda instead of having a precise (as possible) reflection of what was actually written. Can you shed light on what was actually there? Is this a simple matter of using different manuscripts? If so, which is older/more reliable? thanks

  2. Donald Thomas

    In v. 33 (http://www.greeknewtestament.com/B42C002.htm#V33), the Textus Receptus uses iwshf (i.e., Joseph); the Alexandrian & W&H use pathr (i.e., pater=father).

    In v. 41 (http://www.greeknewtestament.com/B42C002.htm#V41), all use goneiV (i.e., goneis=parents).

    In v. 48 (http://www.greeknewtestament.com/B42C002.htm#V48), all use pathr (i.e., pater).

  3. I have been fooled by people who I now realized were satanists about this “KJV only” thing. I found an article online about KJV being luciferian too.

  4. However the new version translators claim to be interested in providing translations closer to the original. The earliest evidence on the verse is a witness translated at Rome in the second century. It agrees with the KJV and reads Joseph. So why change it? I agree with your statement about verses in the KJV that show an earthly relationship, but at the same time other verses such as Luke 2:33 downplay that relationship. Why remove those? Changing enough words to validate a copyright does not validate the changes or the scholar.

  5. Generally the KJV uses a text based on newer, more numerous manuscripts. A lot of people crow about these because they are more numerous and thus further their argument of the superiority of the textus receptus…in reality it simply means that more copies were made and does not therefore prove a more reliable source.

    The KJV manuscript says “ioseph” which translates to Joseph. The more modern versions have “pater” which generally translates to Father. Older manuscripts use “pater” and it is the more numerous, newer ones which use “ioseph”.

    Again, as stated in the article, it really does not bother me which is used. But if you start saying that using “father” denies the virgin birth, and therefore proves how “evil” modern versions are, then I have an issue with that.

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